New Zealand Archbishop delivered lectures on The Lord of the Rings

2004/2013. David Moxon became an Archbishop of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and then the Anglican representative to the Vatican in Rome for five years. This was a little of a trajectory of his activities in my interview with him starting with the interview in 2004 and then the interview in 2013. Starting with older The Lord of the Rings news.

2003, David Moxon: I have given two public lectures, one advertised in the newspaper in Hamilton and one in Lower Hutt, since the release of the first movie The Fellowship of the Ring (in 2001).  Both lectures resulted in approximately 200-300 people I have also spoken to university groups, twice in Waikato and once in Otago:  they were both advertised through the university and both numbered about 100-150 people.   I have spoken to church youth groups, an Anglican Schools Conference, Parish groups and study groups in the Waikato area and in Taranaki.   I have been doing this at the request of the host in each case, who had students’, parishioners’ or other feedback suggesting there would be a lot of interest in the topic, to go beneath the surface of the story and discover whatever treasure could be found in terms of values and spirituality, given that the author was a Christian and wrote from this world view.

The publisher and printer of my A Once and Future Myth, an applied theology of The Lord of the Rings, was the Wellington Anglican Church House Bookshop and it was released in 2004. The booklet was a cottage industry paperback, not hard bound and not intended for distribution beyond New Zealand. It included a focus on the New Zealand experience of the filming, Peter Jackson’s interpretations, as well as an applied theology of The Lord of the Rings. I thought it would interest some of the NZ Christian community mostly. It is actually out of print now. I wasn’t expecting it to sell so quickly or in such numbers. They all went.

However I genuinely think there are better books available, particularly The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood, published by The Westminster John Knox Press (2003), which I believe is available and a very good interpretation of Tolkien’s Christian literary base. In my correspondence with Tolkien’s daughter Priscilla, who was one of the first people along with her brothers, to hear The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings read aloud, she said that Ralph Wood had been to see her before publishing. I sent her a copy, which she hadn’t seen. I believe she approved of its general tenor.

What has been the (hectic, easy going) broad range of your activities between the appointment to the Vatican and taking up residence in Rome?

2014, David Moxon: It has been a very full and encouraging process, with huge challenges of course. Closing off my previous ministry, many farewells. Moving house, moving an office across the world [to become the Anglican representative to the Vatican], being inducted and making the first contact with key stakeholders in Rome.

What has been happening now?

David Moxon: I am in a meeting at New York , of the governors of the Anglican Centre, and preparing for a meeting with Cardinal Timothy Dolan the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church here, Katharine Jefferts Schori. We are promoting the cause of Anglican Catholic cooperation and dialogue, together with other Christians

How long is the post to the Holy See?

David Moxon: Three to five years.

In your post to the Holy See, what is next?

David Moxon: I am meeting the pope, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in June, which will set the scene for the rest of my time here. I am very pleased that this has happened so early in the time.

What outcomes do you want to see in Anglican-Catholic relations?

David Moxon: I want to see a greater understanding of each other’s faith positions, and a greater cooperation between our different missions, especially in the cause of justice development and the environment

And why do you want this?

David Moxon: Because it is the will of God in Christ, that we may all be one, that the world may believe. It is the great transforming vision of the epistle to the Ephesians of God’s movement towards the reconciliation of all things in Christ. It must be part of our DNA as church because of this imperative.

I would like to know if your meeting(s) with Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Episcopalian Bishop Katharine was together or at separate meetings because it is intriguing that they have opposite views on some controversial issues although I am aware that you said the meeting(s) was about something

David Moxon: The meetings were separate, the one with Bishop Katharine was her extending hospitality to the Anglican centre in Rome board of governors, and the one with Cardinal Timothy was an afternoon appointment with the same group of governors plus the American friends of the Anglican centre in Rome. On both occasions we discussed the value of the work of the Anglican centre in Rome as a contributor to Anglican roman catholic dialogue and cooperation, where appropriate and possible, in areas of mutual interest in ministry and mission. Both conversations were valuable in their different ways.


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